Day 15: Addiction Specialist Testifies In Oklahoma Opioid Trial
TULSA, Oklahoma - An addiction specialist testified on the 15th day of Oklahoma's Opioid trial, telling the judge he and other doctors were misled about the risks of opioids. Dr. Jason Beaman said Johnson & Johnson is largely responsible for that.
Beaman said he was told that if he was a "compassionate" doctor, he would treat his patient's pain "aggressively" with opioids.
Beaman said opioids are essential for treating acute pain and cancer pain, and admitted he prescribes painkillers when necessary, but he said after he lost his first ever patient to prescription opioid addiction, it changed the way he looked at the drugs.
He said in hindsight, he realizes he prescribed opioids earlier in his career that he wouldn't prescribe today.
"I know I've prescribed opioids that could have placed individuals at harm," Dr. Beaman said. "I don't know if I did, but I would not be surprised to learn that prescriptions I wrote, that individuals who obtained those prescriptions have subsequently developed opioid use disorder, and even worse, they may have died."
Beaman said one of the major keys to getting this epidemic under control is to stop pharmaceutical companies to market opioids in a better, safer way.
He said he believes the marketing campaigns of companies (including Johnson & Johnson) is the reason the crisis exists.
Beaman said marketing campaigns told doctors the risks were minimal because you can't get addicted to opioids if you're using them for pain. Beaman said getting rid of "harmful and misleading" messages like this are the first step to fixing this problem in one of the country's hardest hit states.
"We've already started to make some improvement," he said. "There's no reason if we can just get the unbranded, unethical marketing campaign out of our state, if we can get a well-funded abatement plan, we should go back to pre-1996 levels."
"You don't heal the healthy, you have to go to where people need the help the most, and I feel like that's Oklahoma," he continued. "These are my people, this is my state. I feel quite a bit of obligation and responsibility and duty in coming back here and caring for Oklahomans."
Beaman said fighting the crisis will be expensive, but reasonable.